JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown City Council has voted to give food trucks and other mobile food vendors more flexibility in operating within the city, but the vote wasn’t unanimous.
The council held its monthly voting session Monday night video video conference and approved a Mobile Food Vendor pilot program for the operation of food trucks by a vote of 7 to 2.
The pilot program will allow food trucks to operate in the city if they are set up at least 125 feet away from an existing brick-and-mortar restaurant. However, if the vendor is also located in Jamestown, they would be allowed to set up immediately outside of their base of operation without having to abide by the 125 ft distancing mandate. All mobile food operations would have to pay for a license to operate ($150 for Jamestown-based vendors and $300 for out-of-city vendors) and also have to follow health and safety guidelines. Once a permit is granted, they would be allowed to operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. They could also operate past 8 p.m. if part of a special event application or if granted a variance from the city.
Prior to the voting session the council held a work session and discussed the program, including addressing concerns about the impact the program would have on existing restaurants. Also during the voting session, City Clerk Jennifer Williams read through seven comments from the public, all dealing with the food truck issue. All but one of them was in favor of allowing mobile food vendors to operate. Some of those who spoke in favor of allowing the program to get underway were downtown businesses, including Forte Restaurant, Jamestown Skate Products, and The Sprinkle Cone.
Only one letter requested the council table the resolution, but that was signed on behalf of the owners of several downtown restaurants.
In the end, the council voted to approve the resolution, with council members Kim Ecklund and Jeff Russell both voting against it. Council president Tony Dolce did say at the end of the meeting that there will be an opportunity to evaluate and adjust the pilot program.
“We’re probably not going to get a lot of feedback or information on how it will work, particularly during the next month and the remainder of the summer,” Dolce said. “But as we get into next year we’ll have a better idea and lets hope and pray that we have a normal summer with normal activities and we’ll have a better handle on what works, what doesn’t work, what needs to be changed, and what could possibly be changed and do what’s best for the city – both the brick and mortar businesses and the food truck businesses as well.”
Also last night the council approved accepting a $350,000 payment from Southern Tier Environments for Living (STEL) in order to help pay for the removal of blighted homes in the community. That funding was being provided as part of a negotiated agreement with STEL that stemmed from the $31 million renovation and conversion of the Gateway Center on Water Street into the Gateway Lofts housing project.
And the council also gave approval on the Board of Public Utilities borrowing up to $2 million as part of its $5 million water line replacement project. The low-interest borrowing will come out of the state’s drinking water revolving loan fund. The remaining $3 million of the project comes from the New York State Drinking Water Infrastructure Improvement grant program. The BPU had also approved the project earlier in the day on Monday.